Hard work can pay off in certain endeavors where your result is solely tied to how much work you put in, but in cases where multiple factors determine success, hard work alone may not pay off.
For example, if you are working at a job that offers overtime pay, then hard work will pay off because the more you work, the more money you will make. The amount of work you do is the sole determinant for success. But if you want to launch a successful business, then hard work alone is not going to necessarily pay off because other things matter just as much (if not more) than how hard you work. For example, many things can derail your success, such as intense competition, a declining demand for your product, poor planning, faulty execution, running out of funding, etc.
So is hard work even worth it if you are planning to accomplish something big and complicated?
The answer is a resounding yes! In this article, we are going to discuss 4 reasons why hard work still matters and why you should pursue it without reservation if you want to achieve your goals. Let’s get into it!
If you would like to see a condensed version of this article in video format, check out my YouTube video on the topic below.
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Hard Work is a Pre-Requisite, But Not a Guarantee of Success
Although hard work won’t guarantee success in a big, complex undertaking like attending your dream school, becoming an elite athlete or musician, getting your ideal job, or scoring that big promotion, it is a requirement if you want to even be in the running.
Nothing worthwhile is handed to you. You may work really hard and wind up failing. That is a possibility. But if you don’t put in any effort, you will definitely fail. That’s a certainty.
So, working hard is tables stakes.
Everyone would love to get into Harvard, work for a prestigious tech company, make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and ultimately strike out on their own and create the next Big Thing. But wishing for it is going to get you nowhere. If you are truly determined to reach an ambitious goal, you will need to devote enough time and effort to accomplish such a goal. A lot of hard work is the first, necessary, step.
Hard Work Will Maximize Your Chances of Success
Not only is hard work a baseline requirement for success, it is the best way to maximize your chances for obtaining your goal. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s take an example that’s easy to understand. You are reading a blog, so you know what a blogging website is. You can also probably imagine that starting a successful blog and growing it into one that makes good money is not an easy undertaking (I can attest to this). Many things need to go right.
First, you need to write a lot of articles. The more articles you write, the better chance you have of bringing in more traffic (which directly translates into more money). Those articles need to be engaging and high-quality pieces, so you have to put in the effort to write really awesome content that is both helpful and entertaining.
You need to learn how to conduct research on what topics to write about (and actually conduct that research for each article you write). You also need to find the best ways to monetize your blog (and keep an eye on your competition to make sure you are staying ahead in the Google rankings). Speaking of rankings, you need to stay abreast of what Google is doing because its actions (mostly search algorithm updates) can have a huge impact on how much traffic your blog gets.
All of these things require effort.
If you neglect any of these areas, your chances of long term success are going to suffer. But if you are diligent and willing to put in the effort to keep all of these balls in the air, then you have a great shot at ultimately succeeding (and a much better shot than someone who is lazy and neglects some of these key areas).
I used blogging as an example, but this principle applies to a lot of other major goals – you can easily see how this would apply to preparing for an exam, mastering a sport or musical instrument, planning and executing a big project at work, etc.
Related Reading: If you are interested in learning how to blog and want a guide to getting started, check out my article on How to Start a Blog From Scratch.
I cover all of the key areas you need to know, including how to set up your website and most importantly, my best tips for writing great articles, getting traffic to your blog, and monetizing that traffic.
Even if You Fail, Hard Work Will Increase Your Skills and Build Your Resilience
If you work hard toward achieving your goals, you are naturally going to get better at certain things.
What those things are depends on your goal. If you are trying to get into a great university and are putting in a lot of effort to accomplish that, you are naturally going to get better at doing your assignments and studying for exams. You are also going to become much more knowledgeable about the subjects you are studying for.
What happens if you work really hard to get into that school, but get rejected? It sucks, of course, but you are way better off then if you hadn’t put in that effort. Maybe you got into your second choice school that is almost as good. If you did not put in the effort to get into your dream school, you probably would not have gotten into your second choice either. You also developed amazing study habits and a disciplined mindset that will serve you well in reaching future goals.
The same holds true for jobs, businesses and any other major undertaking. Failures may come, but nobody can take away what you have learned and the skills you have developed along the way. You can thank hard work for those lessons and skills.
And the best part is that sometimes a failure can lead to better opportunities…
Hard Work May Reveal Hidden Opportunities
Working hard has a funny way of revealing opportunities. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you are working on a new business venture and have been devoting a lot time and effort to making it a success. You have studied the market to the point of exhaustion, spent long days and late nights developing a superior product, priced it well based on robust market research, and developed a strong marketing plan using the best channels out there. You launch the business and…it is a complete and total failure.
It happens all the time. The failure rate for startups is around 90%!
So what do you do? In a lot of cases, people fold up their tent and walk away. But the determined ones don’t. They try to learn from the experience and figure out what went wrong, so they can succeed the next time.
And the more thorough you were and the more hard work you put into the failed business, the more information you have around why the business did not work. You can narrow down the causes for the failure and focus on not making the same mistakes again. This can lead to a new business idea (or a modified version of the failed business) that you would never have thought of had you not put in the immense amount of hard work into the failed business.
A classic example of this is the story of Thomas Edison trying thousands and thousands of different filaments in his light bulb before finding the right one. Each failure was a learning which drove him closer to success. And what a world changing success it was!
In contrast, if you were haphazard and lazy and the business you were working on failed, you have no idea what caused its failure. Maybe its because you didn’t analyze the competition, maybe you charged too much because you did not look at what was industry standard, or maybe your product was missing a key feature that everyone else had.
Any of these things can sink your business, but you can’t narrow it down to one thing because you were lazy and didn’t do so many things you should have.
That means you will probably fail again (if you bother trying). And you certainly won’t be inspired toward any new ideas due to things you learned through your hard work (because you did not work hard in the first place).
So there you have it – an explanation of whether hard work pays off and some key reasons why hard work is important, even when your hard work doesn’t yield the result you were looking for. I hope you found this article helpful.
If you want to learn more about how to successfully start a new business (and minimize your chances of failure), check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to starting a business.